Bipartisan Agreement That Obamacare Warrants IT Reform

Opening statements from the House Oversight Committee prioritize reform so government technology projects don’t fail again.

Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-M.D.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Nov. 13, 2013, 5:32 a.m.

In his 20-minute open­ing re­marks, House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if., said the botched rol­lout of Health­Care.gov calls for le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion to en­sure the gov­ern­ment can suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment large-scale tech­no­logy pro­jects.

“This is part of a pat­tern that oc­curs due to fail­ure to ad­here to the private sec­tor’s world-class stand­ards for IT pro­duc­tion,” Issa said.

Rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings, D-Md., agreed, adding that the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices agency re­spons­ible for im­ple­ment­ing the fed­er­al health in­sur­ance ex­change,”did not de­liv­er” on Health­Care.gov.

Still, Cum­mings also called Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing an­oth­er Re­pub­lic­an at­tempt to thwart the pres­id­ent’s health care law. “The Re­pub­lic­ans shut down the gov­ern­ment for three weeks,” he said. “They threatened to de­fault on our debts un­less we re­pealed the Af­ford­able Care Act. Now they are at­tempt­ing to use the con­gres­sion­al over­sight pro­cess to scare Amer­ic­ans from the web­site by mak­ing polit­ic­al as­ser­tions about the se­cur­ity of their private in­form­a­tion.”

On Oct. 10, Issa and Sen. Lamar Al­ex­an­der, R-Tenn., launched an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the im­ple­ment­a­tion of Health­Care.gov. In the weeks lead­ing up to Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing, Issa’s of­fice re­leased in­tern­al memos from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­veal­ing se­cur­ity con­cerns and oth­er tech­nic­al glitches pri­or to Health­Care.gov’s Oct. 1 launch.

Issa at­trib­uted those mis­haps to delayed reg­u­la­tions and to a late start on the design and de­vel­op­ment of the Obama­care web­site. Those delays, he al­leged, were a polit­ic­al move to buf­fer Obama from neg­at­ive pub­lic opin­ion.

“It seems sad that you pass a law in the first few months of an ad­min­is­tra­tion and that reg­u­la­tions came to a halt so that they would not be out there dur­ing the pres­id­ent’s reelec­tion,” Issa said.

Issa also told the HHS rep­res­ent­at­ives present to testi­fy at the hear­ing that clos­ing the se­cur­ity loop­holes his com­mit­tee has un­covered was a pri­or­ity mov­ing for­ward.

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